The Nouriel in All of Us

Chris Burniske
Oct 13, 2018 · 2 min read

This week crypto has been afire with Nouriel news. After voicing my own disgust at Nouriel’s behavior, Chris King responded:

“He’s triggered and we’re triggered. No one really wins.”

Chris is right. We’re all so triggered that conversation between the crypto-community and Nouriel has devolved into an intolerant pissing contest of insults, and such rhetoric between groups goes nowhere. We appear just as badly to Nouriel, as Nouriel appears to us.

I raise it as a reflection now, because a rhetoric of intolerance is dangerously common in crypto. If someone doesn’t agree with a tribe’s ideas, too quickly do things escalate to personal insults and expletives. While insults and expletives can be rich and colorful in person, through a screen they lazily fall flat and convince no one.

Intolerant rhetoric also kills off the diversity of ideas, as the disagreers defect over time, slowly debilitating a group’s ability to assess its own weaknesses.

To be fair, a rhetoric of intolerance goes far beyond crypto, and stems from a broader breakdown in civility that we are seeing in our culture today (call me old-fashioned). Online cultures are particularly prone to breakdowns in civility, as we all feel bolder behind a screen, just as dogs feel bolder behind a gate. Being prone to a destructive tendency should make us vigilant about protecting against it, especially if we believe we are building the digital world of tomorrow.

A culture of incivility is not a world I want to live in, nor is it a world that most people will want to live in. Incivility is the opposite of a Welcome! sign. While cryptonetworks must successfully operate and survive in adversarial environments, the human layers atop cannot be soaked in the same intolerant rhetoric and culture of incivility. Crypto will never be broadly adopted if Grandma has to worry about being personally attacked for her banking decisions.

Fortunately, almost everyone that I’ve met in person over the years of being involved in crypto has been nicer than they may appear online. The unfortunate thing is, if you’re outside the crypto community, you may never meet us in person. All you see is what’s online.

Some will claim I’m suggesting we all sit in a circle and sing Kumbaya. I’m not. We should always disagree with ideas that we think are misguided, and quickly; bad ideas waste valuable time. But disagree with the ideas, not the people, and do it civilly. Let the truth do the rest.

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